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Exodus 3:1-6 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 3

[a]Meanwhile Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian. Leading the flock beyond the wilderness, he came to the mountain of God, Horeb.[b] There the angel of the Lord[c] appeared to him as fire flaming out of a bush. When he looked, although the bush was on fire, it was not being consumed. So Moses decided, “I must turn aside to look at this remarkable sight. Why does the bush not burn up?” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to look, God called out to him from the bush: Moses! Moses! He answered, “Here I am.” God said: Do not come near! Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground. I am the God of your father,[d] he continued, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Footnotes:

  1. 3:1–4:17 After the introduction to the narrative in 2:23–25, the commissioning itself falls into three sections: God’s appearance under the aspect of a burning bush (3:1–6); the explicit commission (3:7–10); and an extended dialogue between Moses and God, in the course of which Moses receives the revelation of God’s personal name. Although in the J source of the Pentateuch people have known and invoked God’s personal name in worship since the time of Seth (Gn 4:26), for the E and P sources (see 6:2–4) God first makes this name publicly available here through Moses.
  2. 3:1 The mountain of God, Horeb: traditionally, “Horeb” is taken to be an alternate name in E source material and Deuteronomy (e.g., Dt 1:2) for what in J and P is known as Mount Sinai, the goal of the Israelites’ journey after leaving Egypt and the site of the covenant God makes with Israel. However, it is not clear that originally the two names reflect the same mountain, nor even that “Horeb” refers originally to a mountain and not simply the dry, ruined region (from Hebrew horeb, “dryness, devastation”) around the mountain. Additionally, the position of “Horeb” at the end of the verse may indicate that the identification of the “mountain of God” with Horeb (= Sinai?) represents a later stage in the evolution of the tradition about God’s meeting with Moses. The phrase “mountain of God” simply anticipates the divine apparitions which would take place there, both on this occasion and after the Israelites’ departure from Egypt; alternatively, it means that the place was already sacred or a place of pilgrimage in pre-Israelite times. In any case, the narrative offers no indications of its exact location.
  3. 3:2 The angel of the Lord: Hebrew mal’ak or “messenger” is regularly translated angelos by the Septuagint, from which the English word “angel” is derived, but the Hebrew term lacks connotations now popularly associated with “angel” (such as wings). Although angels frequently assume human form (cf. Gn 18–19), the term is also used to indicate the visual form under which God occasionally appeared and spoke to people, referred to indifferently in some Old Testament texts either as God’s “angel,” mal’ak, or as God. Cf. Gn 16:7, 13; Ex 14:19, 24–25; Nm 22:22–35; Jgs 6:11–18. The bush: Hebrew seneh, perhaps “thorny bush,” occurring only here in vv. 2–4 and in Dt 33:16. Its use here is most likely a wordplay on Sinai (Hebrew sinay), implying a popular etymology for the name of the sacred mountain.
  4. 3:6 God of your father: a frequently used epithet in Genesis (along with the variants “my father” and “your father”) for God as worshiped by the ancestors. As is known from its usage outside of the Bible in the ancient Near East, it suggests a close, personal relationship between the individual and the particular god in question, who is both a patron and a protector, a god traditionally revered by the individual’s family and whose worship is passed down from father to son. The God of Abraham…Jacob: this precise phrase (only here and in v. 15; 4:5) stresses the continuity between the new revelation to Moses and the earlier religious experience of Israel’s ancestors, identifying the God who is now addressing Moses with the God who promised land and numerous posterity to the ancestors. Cf. Mt 22:32; Mk 12:26; Lk 20:37. Afraid to look at God: the traditions about Moses are not uniform in regard to his beholding or not being able to look at God (cf. 24:11; 33:11, 18–23; 34:29–35). Here Moses’ reaction is the natural and spontaneous gesture of a person suddenly confronted with a direct experience of God. Aware of his human frailty and the gulf that separates him from the God who is holy, he hides his face. To encounter the divine was to come before an awesome and mysterious power unlike any other a human being might experience and, as such, potentially threatening to one’s very identity or existence (see Gn 32:30).
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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